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Obituary: Boniface Esong Ekpenyong

February 2, 1939 – May 4, 2024

Boniface Esong Ekpenyong Professor Boniface Esong Ekpenyong was born on February 2, 1939, in Okopedi Okobo, Nigeria. He was born to the union of Esong and Andem-Bassey. Over the years he became the esteemed head of his family, with many relatives looking to him for leadership and guidance in a wide range of affairs.

Both his father (Esong) and paternal grandmother (Andem), valued education. Esong would put his nephew (Dr. Andem) through school, and the latter became the first medical doctor in Okopedi Okobo. Looking to Dr. Andem’s career as inspiration, Boniface would earn a bachelor’s degree in Physics at the University of Nsukka in Nigeria. In the 1960s he traveled to the United States to further his education at the University of Chicago (U of C), where he earned a master’s degree in Radar Meteorology. It was on the campus of U of C, at International House, where he met Sharon, and in 1969 they were married. He built a career in higher education, working as a professor of Physics, Astronomy, and Physical Sciences at Malcolm X College and Chicago State University, among other institutions. His appreciation for the value of education was passed on to his children, Andem, Karen, and John.

Boniface was very religious and active in his parish, Jesus Shepherd of Souls – formerly known as Our Lady of Knock. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Eucharistic Minister, and an active member of the parish council. He also loved sports, especially tennis. He was a big football fan, his favorite team being Manchester United. He also loved gardening and spent hours in his backyard. Sharon loved the pineapples he grew at their home in Nigeria, which she used to make delicious pies (a family favorite). In the last ten years, advanced Sudoku became his favorite pastime.

He had many sisters (Bibiana, Mercy, Grace, Beatrice, Victoria, Catherine, and Immaculata) and even more brothers (John, Patrick, Emmanuel, Sylvanus, Benedict, Archibong, Livinus and Alfred).

Boniface is survived by his wife, Sharon Ekpenyong and children Andem Ekpenyong, Karen Shifflett and John Esong Ekpenyong; and son-in-law James Shifflett.

He was a beloved husband and father, esteemed brother and uncle, dedicated educator, and keeper of the Catholic faith. He will be dearly missed.

Smits Funeral Homes
Smits Funeral Homes
We are a family-owned business providing compassionate, professional end-of-life care. We handle all the details during a difficult time, so you can focus on the things that matter. We understand that each family is unique and has personal requests and traditions. Call our main office at 219-322-7300 to find out more about the customized services we can offer your family when the time comes.


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